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Utah defense workers cheer back-to-work order

Published October 5, 2013 9:10 pm

Military • No word yet from Utah Army National Guard, Dugway Proving Ground.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Saturday that he is calling back to work most defense workers furloughed last week during the government shutdown.

Presumably, that means some or all the 2,700 civilians furloughed at Hill Air Force Base, Utah's largest employer, will be back on the job Monday.

"It's great news, great news," said HAFB spokeswoman Andrea Mason. "The base would be a better place having everyone back."

Monty Lewis, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1592, was happy, too.

"That's going to mean a lot for a lot of employees," said Lewis.

"It's great news for Hill Air Force Base and the Defense Department … but I still feel for our brothers and sisters in the IRS and other federal agencies. They're still in the same boat."

Hagel said in a news release that attorneys with the Defense and Justice departments had determined that he could call back those whose responsibilities "contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members."

He directed all departments to identify those employees and said workers can expect to hear from their managers this weekend, according to the news release.

The secretary did not address whether the recalled workers will be paid but did say he supports efforts in Congress to retroactively pay all those furloughed, the news release said.

Lewis applauded that move, since the workers had already lost six days of pay due to furloughs related to sequestration in July and August.

At the Utah Army National Guard, Lt. Col. Hank McIntire said he had no guidance from his superiors Saturday and could not comment. The Utah National Guard had 1,200 military and civilian employees on furlough.

Likewise, Paula Thomas, spokeswoman at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground, was awaiting word from her bosses.

Many of Dugway's 2,600 employees are on furlough, but not those involved in public safety and security.

kmoulton@sltrib.comTwitter: @KristenMoulton